Embracing Where You're At: 10 Ways CoLab Gets It Right
A business has a life of its own. Like a child it must be fostered toward continuous growth and improvement. Those who shape it need to maintain an awareness of strengths to be encouraged and weaknesses to attend to. But, careful! It is surprisingly easy to fall into the trap of focusing heavily on weaknesses while forgetting to celebrate successes.
Most often the questions that get asked are: what are our pain points, where can we do better, and what problems need to be fixed. These questions are essential and must be asked. However, it’s a mistake to ask them to the exclusion of questions like: what are we doing well and what do we like best about our business.
When the balance tips in favor of focusing on the negative, a culture of not-enoughness and dissatisfaction can become the norm, and there’s the risk that the good practices you have may slacken or be forgotten. They may fall away, and you’ll be left with another weak point in need of fixing.
With this in mind, CoLab has asked its members what they like best about their cooperative. What is CoLab Co-op doing right?
1. The CoLab team supports and respects each other.
We experience each other as people first. So many organizations in the corporate landscape focus primarily on what they can get out of their workers, and individuals feel reduced to a list of tasks. We are proud to say that our team members are embraced for the curious complicated beings they are. People will ask you how you slept last night, how your spouse is doing. They will remember and acknowledge your birthday. CoLabrs can tell if you feel sick or sad and will show their concern. We feel blessed to work in a place defined by a culture of caring.
2. A culture of free and open communication is cultivated at CoLab.
If there’s a question that someone needs to ask, there is a team member ready and willing to give an answer. People are safe to ask for support when they need it. When help is given, it is never given grudgingly regardless of how busy everyone is. When problems arise among team members, a meeting is arranged, a safe place created in which everyone is accepted and everyone is heard. One such meeting was conducted recently. We walked in fragmented and disorganized and walked out a unified force ready to try again.
3. We work with people who share our values.
CoLab consciously recruits team members who share our values: integrity, accountability, teamwork, respect for others and the planet, discipline, service, and wisdom. We also choose to work with clients who are motivated (like we are) to make the world a better place. This is clearly witnessed in the recent work we’ve done with Pivot Works (a company that turns human waste into industrial fuel, improving the sanitation and quality of life in places all over the world) and Blue Marble Project (a consultancy working for environmental protection and sustainability).
4. We support our clients and work hard to ensure optimal benefits for them.
CoLab knows that our success as an organization is defined by the experience of our customers. We strive not only to produce the highest quality in our deliveries, but to ensure that our clients to feel heard and supported every step of the way. So far, client feedback has affirmed that we are meeting this goal. For example, in CoLab’s work with the Unitarian Universalist Association, Online Communication Technology Manager Margy Levine Young celebrated the fact that CoLab both built a complex Drupal network and taught her team how to create and support such a network. We feel good about the fact that we are willing to go the extra mile for our customers.
5. CoLab cares about diversity.
We are a culturally diverse, globally distributed company. We have team members in India, Slovenia, Australia, the UK, and all over the United States. Men and women of different cultural backgrounds, different ethnicities, and spiritual traditions are all embraced for the singular gifts they bring to our cooperative. We consider it so important that we have a bi-weekly lunch dedicated to the to celebration and discussion of diversity.
6. Knowledge seeking and intellectual expansion are the norm at CoLab.
One of the most amazing things about the tech industry is that it is always changing. If a developer is going to stay relevant, they need to be constantly learning the newest, leanest, most effective tools. It’s not just programmers who need to stay on top of their game. The face of our global economy is a rapidly shifting one. Our marketing aficionados, business strategists, designers, and operations experts are likewise continuously learning new ways to keep CoLab current.
7. Everyone has a voice.
Being a cooperative, CoLab does not foster the same hierarchical principals found in most businesses. Certainly, there are leaders, and people who have taken responsibility for certain projects and areas of development. But, if there was an individual in the organization who had an idea or suggestion, regardless of seniority or expertise, their input would always be welcomed and encouraged.
8. Everything we make comes from a collaborative effort.
At CoLab, we believe that the group is always smarter than the isolated individual. That’s why every project we present is a combined effort, collating different perspectives, techniques, and areas of expertise. Everything from a web application design to business strategy proposal, from the creation of content for a client’s website to this blog, it was all formed through a process of collaboration. We know that we are strongest together.
9. A sense of freedom prevails.
CoLabrs are not afraid to pursue whatever personal needs arise in their lives. They will be supported. We do not have to be afraid to take time off to take a trek in the Himalayas, or take a few days to visit the ocean. If someone has to miss a day because their kid is sick and home from school, they don’t have to stress about having to miss work. Their co-workers will rally to pick up any slack. CoLabrs are free to set their own hours. We are free to take a walk or a nap in the middle of the day, if that’s what we need to be at our best. CoLabrs are liberated to pursue the best versions of themselves that they can conceive of.
10. We foster a culture of gratitude.
We are grateful to be co-creators of a business that sets out everyday to make the world a better place. We are grateful to work in a place that feels like a family and encourages us to be ourselves. We are grateful to our clients. We are grateful for our lives. We are grateful for this moment.